How retail discount advertising negatively affects B2B sales: Part two

How to shift the conversation from price to value

In last week’s post we talked about how — given every business executive is a consumer, and the high volume of discount sales in the retail sector — the expectation of ‘better price’ is affecting business-to-business (B2B) sales.

We concluded that a more pragmatic approach is needed, based on value rather than absolute price.

This is the point we need to understand as salespeople and business leaders: the client does not really see a price, they see and are looking for value. So our real mission as salespeople is to find out what value means to each of our clients. We can only do that if we ask questions and don’t assume we know what is best for our clients before we ask them. By doing this we can begin to move away from the price conversations so many sales people find themselves in.

So how do we understand specifically what value means to each of our clients, especially when products hardly differentiate from each other and quality is becoming a commodity in many instances?

Businesses and their sales teams need to shift their client conversations away from product as the central focus to conversations centred on:

• effectiveness;

• efficiency; and

• risk and total cost of ownership, which includes price and other things like access, storage, knowledge, distribution, funding, warehousing, logistics, quality, right to use, reputation and brand.

Teaching our salespeople, especially our B2B salespeople, how business works, how our businesses can work in concert with our clients’ businesses, and how we can create real value, is crucial to migrating from the product price discussion to business relationships of real value for parties concerned.   

Creating a value checklist

Creating a value checklist should become mandatory for both buyers and sellers. Here’s a practical list to help get the process started.

When considering price (as a proportion of value) include at the very least, the following considerations:

1. The price being asked;

2. The learning curve required to get optimal value from the purchase;

3. The reputation for reliability of the supplier company;

4. The responsiveness of the supplier;

5. The guarantees, warranties and support provided by the sales organisation;

6. The company’s payment and returns policy; and

7. The ease with which one can reach real people in the company.

When these (and a host more) factors are applied, value becomes a far better benchmark than absolute price.


There are more criteria that can be included when conserving the real cost of a purchase.

Special offers and discounts are not one of them.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

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